I needed a course that would allow me to experiment and develop my personal approach to photography.
Hi Joshua – please tell us about your work and your influences:
My work focusses primarily on working class communities and history, inspired by the
photography of my father who would regularly document protests in London, and my
grandfather who worked as a miner in South Wales. I am now starting to create more
work exploring my Welsh heritage, and in recent projects I have started to examine my
personal experiences with mental health issues.
In 2019 I completed a project titled ‘The Town That Roofed The World’, documenting the
industrial landscape of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales – a town responsible for mining
vast amounts of slate to be used in building around the globe that is now undergoing a
transformation into a tourist hub, created from the remains of the towns industrial past.
This project was then self published as a zine last year.
My most recent project, Hiraeth (Homesick/Longing), explored my experiences with
childhood trauma and how those experiences continue to effect my daily life. I used a
combination of archival images from my family’s personal collection of photographs,
paired with new work I had created exploring the theme of trauma and anxiety, to create a
visual narrative that I aim to self publish as a book in the near future.
My current work is mostly influenced by documentary photographers with a particular
focus on working class communities, mental health or Welsh industry, such as David
Hurn, J A Mortram and Tish Murtha, and their approach to making work as part of and
engaging with a community and inspired by their own personal experiences.
How have you found your course and time at Brighton?
Although it’s been a difficult year and a half with the pandemic I couldn’t be happier with
my time at the University of Brighton. The tutors have been incredibly supportive from day
one and gave me the confidence to explore difficult personal themes and to challenge
myself in the creation of my work.
The facilities and the approach to tutoring allowed and actively encouraged
experimentation in our work, allowing us to find our own artistic methods and style. This
has been key in the development of my work over the last three years.
How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study photography?
I chose to study photography at this level as I was already starting to work as a
commercial photographer, mostly working in live music and portraiture, but felt that I
wanted to move into more of a narrative-driven documentary approach to creating
photographic work that would allow me to create more personal projects and to explore
more of the history of my family and the country I was born in.
Brighton was an easy choice when it came to deciding where to study. I needed a course
that would allow me to experiment and develop my personal approach to photography
with guidance from tutors that created work in a similar way, I also needed to be able to
gradually find my own unique way of working as I was going from commercial
photography into an entirely new approach to image making.
What are your plans after Graduation?
Since officially finishing my course I have already started to work on my next project,
documenting my home county of Gwynedd in North Wales as extensively as possible,
whilst exploring locations of significance to my family and their history. I have also started
to piece together a project I have been working on for the last five years that documents
the small community in Surrey that I have spent most of my life in, and how this small
working class community fits into one of the most affluent counties in England.
After graduation I plan to continue working on these projects, with the aim of self
publishing them through an independent zine and small book publishing company I am
working to set up in the near future.
I am also considering returning to the University of Brighton to complete a Masters
degree in a few years time when I am in a position to do so.
Follow Joshua on Instagram @stokerphoto
See more of Joshua’s work